I do not want my legacy to be of the sea, to be another grain of sand in the beach of souls. When I was young, I stopped making wishes on stars for they were too distant, too far, to hear my dreams. I began to believe trees would become scarce one day, and they make a better place to latch one’s dreams upon. I do not want my legacy to be of the sea. I dream of my legacy being an orchard of trees bearing my words. Their paper trunks scribbled with my flowing script. Their branches waving in the air—my words singing in the breeze. An orchard of words, not just a grain of sand in the beach of souls. I do not want my legacy to be of the sea.
“How old are you?” The kid asked, his eyes sarcastic and bright. “Seventeen.” I wanted to mumble, kick a pebble with my words under breath. I’m twenty-seven, but I remain rooted to the lie. I feel seventeen with first kisses tangling under my tongue and insecurity my hand to hold through this journey called life. “How old are you?” He asked. “Nineteen.” I wanted to insist, fighting for the year when music crystallized in my veins and tantalized my soul when everything else felt dead like stones. “How old are you?” His eyes sarcastic and bright. “A thousand years old.” It felt the most truthful, though I would never say it. Like Russian dolls stacked inside of each other. I was everything, and I was nothing. Kick a pebble with my words under breath. It doesn’t matter how old I am, the answer’s always the same. “Too old and not old enough, all the same.”
I met a blind man who described his dreams as shadows and voices, shadows reflecting on a white wall and voices in the distance. No matter how close those damn voices were, they were always in the distance. I felt something close to empathy because I am the girl who is lonely in the crowded rooms. I am the girl who gets lost inside her head, and the rest is just shadow play.
My lips curve to form a perfect heart. My eyes are as deep as crushed velvet, a pair of full moons. I have hooked my heart onto a chain, and I’ve worn it as a pendant there for weeks. The modern girl’s equivalent of wearing her heart sewn into her sleeve. My heart has rusty hinges & a worn-out key. Don’t twist the key into the lock; don’t knock at the wrought-iron gate. The hinges will snap off, and this locket will break. I wore it laced at my throat like a noose. You can stop pretending you liked me wearing that heart at my throat.
(Maybe then, you’ll realize every time I refer to ‘you’, I’m secretly referring to me. Maybe then, you’ll realize I misplaced the key to my broken heart.)
It doesn’t make a difference anyhow; you never tried to unlock my heart anyway. I thought I knew love, but all I knew was you.
I look like a car crash; I wish you had evacuated the scene. I’m only one night’s regrets, and I’m sorry to disappoint. I fucked up my lines again, but I’m ready to amaze you again. Maybe you can forgive the blunder, and I can try one last time. You always were the patient type.
I watch you breathe down poems like menthol, and you say this ink is poison. You’ll never raise your writing hand again. All these thoughts are annotated with slander.
I’ve fought for issues I don’t care about; I’ve kissed people I have no intention of dating; I’ve screamed at my mother, and I’ve made a grown man cry. I’ve been afraid of being alone and afraid of the things within me I cannot change. I still cry when you hurt my feelings. Of course I’ve been living my life with too much passion since the first day.
No wonder she says I’ve been trouble since day one; some people just can’t handle their passion intakes.
I used to keep a folded-up suicide note in my messenger bag pocket, tucked away where no one could see behind tubes of lip gloss and pens with chewed-up caps. When a friend brushed her finger tips along it and asked what it was, I told her it was a letter. Something not to be read. She hesitated, then pulled her hand away like the note was singed at the edges, and I had intentionally burnt her.
Newspaper yellows and crinkles with time. Headlines fade, and I am growing crow’s feet of my own, the crinkles around my eyes when I smile. I’m growing older by the minute, memory fading.
(I can’t even remember what your voice sounds like.)
You left me without saying goodbye because last time I saw you, you swore things would be different. You pushed the hair out of your eyes and promised you were changing. You had said you were changing for the better. I remember the smell of stale cigarette smoke as I hugged you goodbye. I remember inhaling your smell and thinking, I will miss you. I never knew the next I’d hear of you you’d be in a coffin, snuffing out my dreams with one shallow breath.
I am the girl with ink smudges on her palms and too many rings on her fingers. Some days, I talk too fast, the words overlapping one another and swallowing into other words. Other days, I move through twelve feet of water, and my words come out garbled. Rocks weigh down my tongue, and I am sluggish. For years, I kept memorabilia from my life: guitar picks from boys who lived in Pakistan, hemp strings from boys who sang in rock bands, broken pieces of pottery from the boy who had fire in his hazel eyes. I kept crumpled letters from girls who told me “with all the love the stars contain” and notes shaped like Chinese take-out boxes from friends who marry and forget to tell me to save the date.
Now, I have empty cigar boxes that smell like dried flowers and memories of a life I no longer know. I look in the mirror every morning, wondering where the years went, wondering if I recognize the girl with big, brown eyes staring back. When I was a teenager, I used to wish I had a face for brooding. One in which my eyes would pierce like a sword. Where I could kill with one deadly glance. Now, I wish to have a smile that makes people think all their problems are fiction, and the only thing real is this moment.
“Vita non est vivere sed valere vita est.”
“Life is more than merely staying alive.”